Bailout math, BAC edition

By Felix Salmon
May 7, 2009

When the government announced stress tests on February 23, Bank of America stock closed at $3.91 a share. At that level, if the government converted $34 billion of preferred stock into common equity, it would have received 8.7 billion shares in Bank of America. There are 6.4 billion shares outstanding right now, which means the government would have ended up with a controlling 58% stake in the company.

Today, BAC is trading at $14.64 per share. At that level, the conversion of $34 billion of preferred stock would mean the creation of 2.3 billion new shares, which would give the government ownership of “only” 27% of the company — a large stake, but very much a minority stake. What luck, for all concerned, that the stress-test result, at the current share price, doesn’t risk giving the government control of the bank!

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